Home Server or Router--whats Different?



I currently have 3 computers running Win XP all linked thru a router. File sharing works with only a glitch now and then. I was recently given another Win XP computer and I want to configure it to record TV from my Comcast Settop Box and make those shows available to the other three computers.

Seems to me the above is best met by simply hooking the computer up to my router and whatever I record on Comp #4 goes to a file and if any other computer in the house wants to view the tv show, they just access the file, transfer or copy the file to their computer and then watch it on their own monitor.

But I’ve been reading up on Windows Home Server software. It doesn’t seem to do anything more than just another computer in a Local Area Network? === What advantages/drawbacks would putting a home server in my mix do for me?



But I’ve been reading up on Windows Home Server software. It doesn’t seem to do anything more than just another computer in a Local Area Network? === What advantages/drawbacks would putting a home server in my mix do for me?[/quote]MS Home Server is erhm, an expensive way to delete data :bigsmile: Seriously, there are some severe bugs in that software that cause data loss. Great for a Server OS.
For your purpose, there is no difference between a computer running MS Home Server and WinXP. The XP machine might be even better if that also is responsible for recording from your TV card.

Other options would be something like http://linvdr.org/projects/linvdr/index.en.php if you want a video recorder in your network.



It’ll make no difference, as Linux software just you have lot of DVR software but all (in general) are still a bit behind regular Windows apps.


Thanks for the confirmation==sometimes hard to tell just by reading descriptions.

Mciahel==thanks for the vdr info. I have been leaning toward a typical Windows/TV Tuner card pc solution because I have one now that works pretty good. I’ve looked at KnoppMyth (eg http://www.mysettopbox.tv/) for a new built Linux solution for my dedicated recorder. Always hard to tell what would be best without having to buy the hardware first, and by then a large commitment has already been made?

I am currently recording HDTV thru firewire using CapDVHS but that software does NOT have the ability to pause a recording in order to skip commercials. Are you aware of any firewire software that might have such a feature? == thanks.


Transferring files might get to be a pain in the butt. I would get your network setup (if it isn’t already) so that it basically has the bandwith to stream the video. You can just have xp file sharing on, go to the drive on the remote computer, and play that file without transferring anything. I have all my stuff on the htpc in the front room (and most of my hard drives in that computer), and play content from it in the bedroom just using simple file sharing all the time. You network just has to be able to transfer data fast enough (and if it isn’t that fast, its going to take forever to transfer HD files anyway). Its simple and works quite well.


Ripit==thanks. If without a home server I can play a file on Computer A from Computer B without having to transfer it first, that will be very nice. If that works, then I wouldn’t see the advantage of a home server at all?==especially if it loses files like mciahel says? I have opened and read word files thru the LAN but so far the other computers don’t play DvD files very well all on their own which is why I’m thinking of adding that new computer as the dedicated TV recorder/server.

Hoping for the best!!!


What is your lan speed and what software are you using to play? What I have been doing is ripping my dvd’s to the hard drive with dvd decryptor. I then use nero show time. Normally you select the play from folder option to play a ripped dvd but I have had problems with that over the network (seems to only sometimes work). I have found that you can use the play media files option, and then add all the files in the folder to the play list. Then it plays fine, with working menu’s and all. I just go to my network places and find the remote drive and the folder. I have also been converting movies to mp4 (slow going as it takes a while to convert). With the converted movie files and or captured tv shows in various avi formats, I can just go to my network places and then the remote computers drive and double click the file to play. Nothing is ever transfered (except in temp files/cache I assume). One thing I will note. I would occasionally get a few freezes or slowdowns, especially if there was much other traffic between those two computers on the network (transferring a file at the same time would cause the streaming video to kind of freeze up). I found if I was having issues, either doing a repair on my wireless card (which just disables it, re enables it and reconnects), and or resetting the router fixed it right away. I recently started using 10/100 wired networking though, and all those little occasional issues are completely gone.
The reason that I was wondering about your network is that you mentioned HD content which takes more bandwith. I never had any issues with SD content and super wireless g (I think any issues I had were wireless issues, not speed issues).

I almost forgot. I have no idea if it matters (it can for video in general, but I don’t know if you need more power to play over a network), but the front computer with all the content is an athlon 64 3400 (single core) and 1GB of ram. The back computer that is playing remote content is an e6300 (on a crappy ecs motherboard which slows it down a bit though), with 1GB of ram (now 1.5 but just recently upgraded).


ripit - - looks like we are doing close to the same things. I don’t rip DvD’s, I only record tv thru firewire from my Motorola DVR/Comcast to my computer. At the computer, I edit, transcode to mp4/DivX, then burn to DvD. I am a few months away from getting a big screen HDTV and I know I’m going to be recording more.

My LAN is 10/100 wired but my Network Neighborhood is very very glitchy. Can’t rely on getting large files transfered before files will freeze. From your confirmation, I look forward to simply playing the files on the host machines while looking at the accessing monitors.

I think I have seen better performance immediately after a router reboot but then performance goes downhill fairly quickly after 5-6 websites are accessed. Seems to act like a cache somewhere getting filled up but D-Link tech says there is no such issue.

I am going to dedicate my donated xp system as a HDTV recorder/server to take workload off my main machine. I’m looking forward to all the further glitches I will see. Thanks for your help. /// Bobbo.


It kind of sounds like you need to get the network issues resolved. Fyi, you don’t actually play the file on the host machine. The software on the remote machines actually handles playing the file, and just gets the video information as needed over the network. Are you trying to play from an actual dvd on the host machine? I would recommend playing from the hard drive on the host machine if you are (and have enough hard drive space for all your video).
I had similar network issues when I was going wireless, but not with wired networking. Is your networking equipment very old (and maybe something is failing)? I wouldn’t think that a wired network should have such problems. I haven’t tried it yet, but I have heard that network magic does a very good job of handling the settings of home networks. If you think it might be a hardware issue, you can get network interface cards pretty cheap on sale. Office depot has dlink 10/100 cards on sale for 5$ this week (I have seen other brands under 10$ though if you want to move away from dlink).
As far as hd, I tested my network and am getting about 7.5MBps (maybe 65-70Mbps). To test real world speed you can just copy a video file (maybe something a couple of hundred MB), and time how long it takes over the network. I’m not sure what is required for HD (I think it might be 5-10MBps for 1080p but lesser HD resolutions would need less). LEt me know if I can help further.


ripit–thanks for the info. Yes, something is definitely not right with my LAN.

My main computer works just fine when connected directly to my Comcast Broadband Modem. When I connect to this modem thru the D-Link Router, I get nothing but slow and partial connects, time outs, and can’t find address notices. If I reboot the router, it seems to work perfectly for about three sites clicks, then back to normal. Because my system works find when directly connected to the modem, I’m thinking this is all router based problem.

It acts like a small cache is getting filled, but D-Link says thats not possible. I’m about ready to try a different brand router–but should call Comcast to see if they have any advice (they hardly ever do!).

Thanks for your good info. /// bobbo.


Have you ever updated the firmware for your router?


Ripit==its their current router EBR-2310 for $40 at Fry’s and $10 Cheaper at CompUSA (I think Fry’s is failing in the overall cheaper department?). BUT I will ask tech the next time I call.

As coincidence would have it==over 12 hours yesterday I lost my internet connection totally. Could not ping. Could not flush dns. Two tech support folks said it was hardware failure on my motherboard. After some google, I found out: go to run, services.msc, and enable dns. It worked and I’m back on line now. My connection thru the router is much much better now==not perfect, but acceptable. It concerns me that “something” including maybe myself turned off the internet on my machine and as usual==the machine is too dumb to tell me. Shouldn’t there be more emphasis on the OS actually having wizards and clues and error messages that WORK? That would be an OS I would buy.


There is infact a difference between flavors of Windows Server software and regular Windows distributions. They just don’t matter to you.

The Server Kernel / core of the Windows Sever is different than regular Windows, as well as having significantly better managment and sever tools.

Though Vista and Server 2008 have very similar kernels. Vista has a shitload of more code on top of it (and bugs).

More specifically virtualization, especially in the newest versions of the Windows server line. HyperV / HyperVisor is some crazy shit.

So if you have windows XP, and then switch too Server 2008, you would only notice maybe some more stability, and if you know any thing about MMC there are a lot more things going on there.

IDK its all the same shit really.


bjd==you sound like a real expert so when you say the different flavors would make no difference to me==I believe you. With the tussle between microsoft, linux, apple, servers etc I think some people “might” get oversold on computer specs and software hype. All end users like me care about is what I can and can’t do with the computer, ==well, and getting a router to run 4 comuters without freezing or knocking a computer off the internet? I wonder what percentage of “the market” would really benefit from a “home-server” solution rather than just a good working router? From the MS advertising campaign going on, you’d think there were real advantages. /// bobbo.


Here is the firmware page for that router (there are 2 versions). Even if you don’t want to mess with the firmware right now, click your version and there are some instructions that will tell you a little more about firmware, not to mention you should be able to find out if you already have the most current version. Fyi in case you didn’t know, firmware is just a small bit of software that controls the router. They do updates to fix bugs so newer versions may get rid of problems.

Opps, forgot the link.


How is the network configured now?

Isn’t the comcast modem also a router?

In which case, you should configure your DLink router to just act as a switch and turn off routing?

As to the server thing … if you desperately need a server, you could install FEDORA linux 8, or Suse 10.3 just to set it up as a file server … and then use “mediatomb” to stream the files. You can still use SMB (windows networking) at the same time, although obviously if you are streaming files & transferring using SMB networking, you are sharing the bandwidth.

Alternately, DLINK also make a gigabit network connected media server which can take 1 or 2 SATA HDD’s like the DNS313/DNS323, can share using SMB, and which also has a media server running & lets you stream video.


Ripit==sorry for late response, I missed the notification email. That is a good link–I missed it in surfing the website myself. I do have the most current firmware installed on my router. My EBR-2310 DLink Router comes in A1 and B1 firmware. B1 is certified for Vista==I wonder if THAT is my problem? The retail box says it should work with XP-SP2 but who knows?

We do a lot of connecting directly to the Comcast Modem and then switching to the router when 2-3 people want to be on-line at the same time which is often. One day only the router worked perfectly. Next day we were back to slow and missed connections often requiring 5-6 attempts to get to a website. Since it worked correctly once, I’m thinking there must be some sort of cycling dynamic setting that keeps getting out of whack. Frustrating–I’m on the verge of trying a different router for the peace of mind. I’ve gone thru every menu choice I can find, turning things off and on, setting different packet sizes and what not. Performance doesn’t really seem to be affected no matter what I do.

I note the Network Magic software that comes with the unit “always” shows a disconnect between the router and the modem even when the web connection is fairly good. The repair function never works and starts the “is your device unplugged wizard.” The date is off in the router too. DLink tech said those issues had to be addressed to the software maker.

xxxxx debro==Network is configured with Broadband Connection to a Comcast Modem that is NOT a router. Dynamic IP. The one wire coming out of the Modem is connected to a 4 slot router that connects to 3 different computers. The main computer that was set up first shows all the shared folders on the LAN but the two later added computers only show their own shared folders and not the other two computers.

No–so far I don’t see any advantage to using a server over a simple router system===except that my simple router LAN is not working yet. Shouldn’t that get working before adding in the complexity of a server system? Last year before I upgraded one computer from win2000 to XP, I had complete functionality/sharing using a different router (it broke last month leading to all this) and running Free VPN as the software that was actually linking the computers in the way I like.

I “feel” like there is nothing special about my system and so this router should work. Must be a simple setting somewhere that needs to be changed?

thanks guys.


I’m jut kind of blindly guessing at ideas since the problem doesn’t seem obvious, but have you tired unplugging and replugging all your connections? Since the hardware seems to not get recognized all the time, maybe there is a weak connection somewhere.
Also, how old is your modem (and is it a comcast provided one)? I had comcast till their contract ended with time warner, and they took over. I cannot remember which company said this, but one of them said my modem was old, and could be responsible for connection problems. They also said they would replace it with a newer version of the same model for free.


Thanks ripit–I feel I am infringing on your time as my problem is so vague and you did help with my posted “first” problem.

“But since you asked”–yes, I have plugged and unplugged, moved cables around, reversed cables. The Comcast Modem is their newest model offering VOIP and all that. Any of the computers hooked up directly to the Modem by itself works perfectly–smooth and fast. I had an off-brand cheapo router for two years before it stopped working and it handled two computers without any hitches all with default settings as it came out of the box. SO==what I’m left with thinking is this most likely is not my equipment but rather IS the router. Given it works good for 7-8 surfs, then needs 5-6 clicks to get a website to open, then works ok again for another 3-4 surfs, then stalls again, I can’t really say its “broken”–it just doesn’t work very good.

I can we ever tell for sure that a router is broken rather than its some firewall setting or dns flushing function or all the other variables known and unknown? Anyway==again, thanks for you help. I’m going to call tech support again–3 different folks so far have come up with 3 different ideas. Maybe the 4th one will work? I’ll post back on any progress. //// bobbo.


IT kind of sounds like your router might be the problem. Unfortunately I’m not much of an expert when it comes to setting up routers. Mine has always worked fine with the basic setup (I kind of blamed issues I had of the fact that it was wireless which would seem to have been true now that I’m wired). Maybe someone with more networking knowledge can recommend settings to check out. Have you though of doing a hard reset of your router and re setup the network if necessary? On mine there is a recessed button on the back that you hold down for 20 seconds or something like that. Be aware if yours has this, it typically wipes out all setting an reverts to default settings. You will wipe out passwords, and or any thing else you have configured. It could also reset any improper settings that are causing problems though.